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Should science kick out psychology?

And just shed a load of scandals?

In “So, if ‘Psychology Isn’t Science’”… (Evolution News & Views, July 17, 2012).
Bruce Chapman notes,

Every so often an article appears taking psychologists to task for claiming the purple mantle of “science.” As Alex B. Berezow explains in the Los Angeles Times, in the latest of such articles, the rules of science are strict.

“Psychology isn’t science,” he contends, “because psychology often does not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability.”

Are those, in fact, the agreed requirements of science?

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5 Responses to Should science kick out psychology?

  1. They can’t kick psychology out of the club, because they had never accepted it as a member, anyway.

  2. Those five basic requirements are fine: what they do, of course, is to exclude nearly everything that can be known or is worth knowing from the field of “science” and put it in an intellectual ghetto.

    My own field of medicine, for example, would by those criteria not be scientific – endless human variables, ethical limitations on research etc. So if medicine isn’t science, how will the funding for medical research be affected? “But look at the progress scientific medicine has made!”

    Sorry – good progress, but didn’t fulfil the criteria for science.

  3. If you’ll allow the favourable comparison, Jon, I’ve always thought of medicine as one of the ‘cooperative arts,’ much like agriculture and education.

    One of my close relatives recently received a masters degree called ‘psychological science.’ Does this count as ‘science-envy’ or as misconstrued ‘western’ philosophy of science or as ackowledgment of scholarly rigour and importance expressed by many people? It was not a ‘he’ either, but a ‘she’ (so flip that notion on its head too)!

    Chiropractors are people too = )

    While everyone remembers the name of their family doctor, not many in a society can name the ‘top scientists’ in their own nation. If that man (Berezow) would only sit-in on a discussion of quantitative vs. qualitative methods, just one example in my familiar fields, his ‘five basic requirements’ would easily be recognised as a cracked (scientistic) dogma, rather than as universal (scientific) ‘truth.’

  4. There are many psychologists that design very rigorous experiments. I have a bachelor’s in psychology and every course began with a class on the scientific method. It seems like psychology was, ahem, compensating for feeling that it is inferior to other sciences.

  5. It’s a humorous example (if it weren’t so pathetic) of someone drawing a circle round their particular arrow and saying they’re the only one to hit the target.

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